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60th Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, August 27-September 18, 2005

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Stage 8 - Saturday, September 3: Tarragona-Lloret de Mar, 189 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Hernan Alvarez

Live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:10 CEST

14:24 CEST   
Welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 60th Vuelta a España for today's eighth stage between Tarragona and Lloret de Mar. Today we're following the coastline in the north east part of Spain for 189 flat kilometres, and on paper, it's a stage that suits the sprinters and opportunist breakaway riders.

There are three intermediate sprints: La Gornal (km 32.9), El Ordal (km 62.9) and the city of Sabadell near Barcelona (km 101.2). There is also one Cat. 3 climb: the Puerto del Ordal (km 65).

14:39 CEST    79km/110km to go
All 180 remaining riders signed on in Tarragona and the stage got under way at 12:45pm. The first attack was a good one, coming at km 6 when Bart Dockx (Davitamon-Lotto) and Angel Gomez Gomez (Saunier Duval) powered away from the peloton. They were chased by Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile) and Xavier Florencio (Relax Fuenlabrada), who couldn't close the 20 second gap. Nardello went back to the bunch after 18 km, while Florencio kept going, despite suffering a puncture at km 24. At this stage, he was 1'05 from the two leaders, with the peloton at 2'42. Luckily for Florencio, the leaders waited for him and he got them at km 28.

At the first sprint in La Gornal (km 32), it was Dockx through first ahead of Gomez and Florencio. The lead was 4'00 at this point, and the three man break drove on, assisted by a tailwind. After one hour, they had covered 44 km. At the second sprint in El Ordal (km 61), Florencio was first ahead of Gomez and Dockx. The advantage was up to 9'05 at this point.

Right after the sprint, the riders hit the only climb of the day, the Cat. 3 Puerto del Ordal, where Florencio crossed the summit first ahead of Gomez and Dockx. In the bunch, Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier Duval) took the remaining point for fourth. The gap on the climb was 10'02, and it is now 10'33 after 78 km of racing.

14:53 CEST    88km/101km to go
After two hours of racing, the average speed is still 43.7 km/h, as the three leaders press their advantage along the Spanish coastline. Florencio is the best placed on GC, lying in 88th at 20'39, so he is no threat to Roberto Heras and Liberty Seguros at all.

15:06 CEST    100km/89km to go
The peloton has started to ride a little bit harder as the race goes past the halfway point. The last time check was 9'40 after 100 km. Dockx, Florencio and Gomez are keeping a good rhythm.

15:16 CEST    103km/86km to go
The leaders are now through the third sprint of the day at Sabadell, with Dockx taking the maximum points ahead of Gomez and Florencio.

15:24 CEST    107km/82km to go
After Liberty Seguros has been setting the controlling tempo, the sprinters teams of Fassa Bortolo and Credit Agricole have moved to the front, and pegged the gap back to 8'42. Alessandro Petacchi will be hoping to make up for his missed chance yesterday, where he punctured in the finale. Winner Max van Heeswijk also punctured, but he was able to get back to the peloton.

15:33 CEST    111km/78km to go
T-Mobile has also joined in the fun to help Fassa and Credit Agricole chase the three leaders. That's a fair bit of firepower already, even without Quick.Step. Erik Zabel will be wanting a win today, having finished second a few times already. Zabel has always been one of the most consistent riders in the peloton, even though he has lost a little of his speed.

15:46 CEST    120km/69km to go
The three sprinters continue their relentless work on the front of the peloton. Although it looks easy to an observer, getting a break back from 10 minutes lead requires quite a bit of gas. Still, that's what they're paid to do and they do it well.

16:00 CEST    136km/53km to go
The chasing peloton has carved another three minutes off the lead of the break, and it's now down to 4'52 with 53 km to go. Dockx drops back for a bit, but is now with the other two again.

Heras is in about 10th wheel in the bunch, behind the Fassa and Credit Agricole trains. T-Mobile has dropped out of the chase for the time being.

16:05 CEST    142km/47km to go
There's a bit of action happening at the back of the peloton as several teams go back to the team cars for bottles. Sastre is back there too, but gets brought up by his CSC teammates.

Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Illes Balears) is getting attention from the race doctor.

16:08 CEST    147km/42km to go
It's now down to 2'42, as about six riders on the front of the peloton chase the leaders, who have been away since km 6.

16:12 CEST    150km/39km to go
The peloton races through La Batlloria, with the break still 2'30 ahead. They're just about to enter the province of Girona, well known to the American riders.

16:14 CEST   
The break goes around a roundabout with Dockx leading Florencio and Gomez.

The temps today are around the 29 degree mark, although it might be a little bit cooler at the finish in Lloret de Mar with the coastal breeze.

16:18 CEST    155km/34km to go
Jose Ivan Gutierrez is again seen to by the race doc. He crashed earlier, and has a few cuts and bruises.

Credit Agricole is joined by Liberty Seguros in front. Fassa seems to have dropped back for the time being.

16:23 CEST    159km/30km to go
The gap seems to be hovering at 2'40 for the time being, even though the peloton is fairly strung out. Fassa has resumed its position at the front with Credit Agricole, so we can expect the tempo to pick up. Heras is still very well placed behind his teammates near the front.

16:29 CEST    162km/27km to go
The chase is definitely on now, as is customary in the last 25-30 km. The leaders haven't given up of course, but the speed of the peloton is very high now - well over 50 km/h.

16:31 CEST    165km/24km to go
The gap has really come down now: 1'05 with just under 25 km to go.

16:32 CEST   
The race is really at two speeds now, although there's a perfectly good reason for that: three fairly tired riders in front versus about eight fresher riders at the head of the peloton.

16:34 CEST    167km/22km to go
Baldato does a big turn in the peloton, then Fabien Sanchez comes through for Credit Agricole with Juan Antonio Flecha on his wheel. The roads are lined by trees now, a welcome relief for the riders in the hot sun.

The leaders have hit a small climb, with a 50 second gap. Dockx tries to keep the tempo going.

16:36 CEST    168km/21km to go
It doesn't matter, climb or flat, the leaders are rapidly coming back to the peloton. 30 seconds now as they get a small descent to rest the legs a bit.

16:37 CEST    169km/20km to go
Dockx is one of the strongest in the break, which is just about done. He has been doing some long turns. Gomez has been getting to the front and dropping back almost immediately.

16:39 CEST    171km/18km to go
It's almost all finished for the three leaders, after over 160 km in front. The peloton is just 10 seconds behind them now.

16:40 CEST   
Dockx does another strong turn as Florencio checks back to see where the peloton is. They'll hold on for another kilometre maybe.

16:43 CEST    172km/17km to go
Credit Agricole and Fassa Bortolo combine to perform the coup de grace, but the leaders persist for a while longer. It's still 20 seconds.

16:46 CEST    175km/14km to go
Dockx sits up at last, as Florencio and Gomez keep going for a bit. But it's fruitless, and the peloton swallows the break with 14 km left.

Quick.Step has moved near the front now, with Boonen up there.

16:46 CEST    176km/13km to go
Immediately there is a counter attack by another Relax Fuenlabrada rider. He gets 50 metres, but not much more than that.

16:47 CEST    177km/12km to go
It's Luis Pasamontes (Relax) who now has 100 metres. These sorts of breaks normally last about 2 km before the lone rider blows to smithereens.

16:49 CEST    178km/11km to go
Pasamontes and the peloton negotiate a big roundabout, which involves a 270 degree "corner".

16:50 CEST    179km/10km to go
Pasamontes has 8 seconds as he goes through another roundabout. He'll need at least 10 seconds in the final kilometre to have a chance.

16:51 CEST   
Nardello moves to the front of the bunch - things might have been different if he'd persisted with Florencio earlier today. Well, it would have been a much harder day for him.

16:52 CEST    182km/7km to go
Pasamontes hammers up to 9 km to go with the peloton at 7 seconds and looking very hungry.

16:53 CEST   
Another roundabout, and the peloton reforms with Credit Agricole driving hard. The lone figure of Luis Pasamontes hovers tantalisingly out of reach.

Now Davitamon-Lotto get to the front for Tom Steels.

16:53 CEST    181km/8km to go
Another attack - by another Relax rider. Pasamontes is caught. Four leaders now, with the peloton starting to split behind.

Another roundabout. And much confusion.

16:54 CEST    183km/6km to go
Less than 7 km to go and it's Freddy Gonzalez (Relax) in the lead. Impressive stuff. All the others have been caught.

16:55 CEST   
Gonzalez is under 6 km to go and entering the city of Lloret de Mar. The peloton follows the small Colombian, who is doing his best.

16:56 CEST    184km/5km to go
The road narrows but most riders make it through. A Lampre rider catches Gonzalez and the two leaders dangle a few seconds ahead of the bunch.

16:56 CEST   
The peloton catches them on a corner. All together again.

16:57 CEST    185km/4km to go
The bunch is right along the coast now, riding along through the palm trees next to the beach. But they're not looking at the view.

Martin Elmiger gets on the front with 4 km to go.

16:58 CEST    186km/3km to go
The bunch turns left and races up a climb as Elmiger launches Perdiguero for an attack. Perdi gets a gap.

16:58 CEST   
It's Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Phonak) who is going to try to steal this stage. But it's a long way to the finish...

16:59 CEST    186.5km/2.5km to go
Perdi looks back and has 5 seconds. He starts to feel it. But he doesn't give up.

16:59 CEST    187km/2km to go
Perdiguero will be caught as he goes under 2 km to go. The Fassa train has formed!

17:00 CEST   
It looks like five Fassas for Petacchi, and the usual fight for the Italian's wheel.

17:00 CEST    188km/1km to go
Bettini is up there to protect Boonen. Three riders left for Petacchi. Zabel and Boonen fighting for the wheel. Zabel has it.

17:01 CEST   
Tosatto leads at 1 km to go then a Credit Agricole push comes up on the left.

17:01 CEST   
Another corner and the peloton splits a bit.

17:01 CEST   
It's still Fassa in front, but Hushovd is in third wheel. Petacchi fifth.

17:02 CEST    189km/0km to go
Hushovd goes off Velo's wheel, then Bettini and Petacchi come past and Petacchi wins his third stage. Hushovd holds on for second.

17:08 CEST   
Bettini hung on for third, but Petacchi was amazing again. He easily got around Hushovd, who had got himself onto Petacchi's lead out man Marco Velo. Number three for Petacchi.

No changes to the general classification after stage 8, but tomorrow's time trial in Lloret de Mar should shake things up a bit. We'll see you all then!


1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                             4.19.14
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole                                 
3 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step - Innergetic                     
4 Francisco José Ventoso (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir              
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic                          
6 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner                             
7 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                      
8 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Cofidis, le credit par telephone               
9 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                 
10 Santos Gonzalez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                          0.03

General classification after stage 8

1 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team           33.22.47
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank                                           0.12
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                           1.07
4 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir                  1.09
5 David Blanco Rodiguez (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana                       1.11
6 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne                 1.26
7 Unai Yus Kerejeta (Spa) Bouygues Telecom                               1.37
8 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana                       1.39
9 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step - Innergetic                          
10 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                     1.58

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